Welcome to History

Sara Barker is a lecturer in the School of History, and she welcomes you to the University of Leeds and to the School.

Independent Learning

Jess Duncan, Joint Honours English and History, Level 2

Molly Courtice, Single Honours History, Level 2

At the School of History, we take pride in the way our students evolve from ‘pupils’ to ‘Independent scholars’ during their degree. This is not a process that happens quickly, and you will be given guidance and training throughout, but this is one of the most important transitions that you will make.

By ‘independent learning’ we certainly don’t just mean ‘working on your own’. Instead, the phrase refers to the way you increasingly shape the way that you work, and choose precisely what you want to research. Being an independent learner means taking the initiative in relation to the tuition and guidance you get, seeking out resources that interest you, and finding ways of working, both individually and collaboratively, which allow you to explore your passions within the subject.

During the first year, we provide a foundation for your independent learning by:

By the end of your degree, you will have produced an original piece of independent scholarship, your Level 3 dissertation, which you will have designed, outlined and completed according to your own agenda.

An excellent way to begin your ‘Independent learning’ would be to click on the ‘History Induction’ tab and start exploring what the School offers, and how you enroll and choose your discovery modules online.


As a student, you will experience research-led teaching in three forms:

  1. In most modules there is a direct link to research being undertaken by the tutor that informs the problems being set and the awareness of the key research debates in that area. The tutor’s research provides cutting-edge understanding of the scholarly literature that you will be asked to consult. Teaching may also be based in rare primary sources used by the tutor in their own work, and therefore you will gain precious access to those sources and the tutor’s interpretations of them.
  2. Even where a module does not link directly to the tutor’s research, the experience of being actively engaged in research shapes the way that the lecturer sees historical problems. This might be more accurately described as ‘teaching in an atmosphere of research’ (Lord Boyle, former VC).
  3. Enquiry-based learning plays a significant role in the School’s research-led teaching; we pass on and train you in research methods as well as allowing research to inform teaching. All final year students (both single and joint honours) take an extended project of some kind, either a dissertation or long essay, where you get the chance to fully utilise the research techniques you have learnt.

As well as your third year Dissertation or Long-Essay, the School offers many opportunities for research project work in year 2:

  • a compulsory long essay for IHP (International History & Politics) students
  • the option for BA History and Joint Honours students to undertake projects taught through HIST2540 History Students in Schools
  • all year 2 students also have the option to take HIST2560 History on the High Street, which examines the history of the British high street through the lens of the Marks and Spencer Company and FOAR2000 Research Placement which allows you to act as a researcher on a current academic research project

Discovery modules

As well as the compulsory and optional modules that make up your programme of study, you can choose something different to your main subject as a discovery module. Find out more about the Discovery Themes on the Broadening pages of the Leeds for Life website.